The Power of the Pentatonic Scale

I was searching for music education-related videos on YouTube recently and stumbled upon an amazing video of what looked like a scientific convention. After taking a closer look, I realized it was Bobby McFerrin demonstrating the pentatonic scale to an audience. The funniest part actually was that the audience did not know they were singing in pentatonic…they just did. It was clear that based on the first note Bobby gave the crowd, their instincts told them to sing in pentatonic. I was amazed.

This video demonstrates the power that an approach such as Orff-Schulwerk has on a child’s life, or, for that matter, an adult’s. By starting in a place that is natural and pleasing to the ear, we can take students to places they never even dreamed was possible.

Similarly, I would guess a majority of the people in the audience of this video didn’t think of themselves as singers, let alone singers of a pentatonic scale!

Enjoy the video…and keep the pentatonic scale alive in your classrooms each and every day!


Justin Caithaml

Justin Caithaml teaches 7-12 Choral Music at Midview Local Schools in Lorain County, Ohio. He completed his Orff-Schulwerk Certification at Baldwin Wallace University, Villanova University, and University of the Arts. Caithaml recently graduated Magna Cum Laude from Baldwin Wallace University, and serves as the Chief Operating Officer of SMART360, an organization dedicated to strengthening elementary students' reading fluency, social skills, and cultural diversity through a creative musical experience. He is a member of the National Association for Music Education, the American Orff-Schulwerk Association, and the American Choral Directors Association.

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